Meir was born on February 9, 1912 in Kolomea, a town in eastern Galicia. Galicia was then in the realm of the Austro-Hungarian empire. His parents were Toni (nee Palker) and Joseph Lederfeind; many members of both families lived in Kolomea. The Jewish community in Kolomea was among the largest in Galicia and numbered between fifteen and twenty thousand persons, more than one third of the town’s total population. The non-Jews, including those from surrounding villages, were Poles and Ukrainians.
If you were an ambitious, energetic young man in mid nineteenth century Galicia, you might go to Borysław to find work in the new wax and oil enterprises. If you had a little cash, you might purchase a piece of land from a peasant and dig your own shaft. That is exactly what Moses Hersch Erdheim did. In 1866, he left his poor family in the village of Sosnica between Jarosław and Przemysl and with the small dowry that his new wife Esther Hopfinger from Sambor brought to their marriage, bought a piece of land. At first, he worked in Borysław, traveling back to his wife and her family in Sambor each week for the Sabbath. By 1874, he was able to build a five-room house on Panska Street in Borysław. Moses Hersch also supplemented his business with retail trade in dry goods, wood and glass articles he brought in from larger towns. Esther managed the store, while bringing up their five sons.
After the First World War the economic and social hardships of the mass of Jews in the towns of Galicia increased, and raised the need to immigrate to Eretz Israel (the Land of Israel). As a consequence of this need a Zionist pioneer (chalutz) movement was founded among Jewish youth that became “Hashomer Hatzair” youth movement. From an article written by Meir in “Sefer Kolomea” – the memorial book published by the survivors of Kolomea.
Book review of The Earl of Petticoat Lane by Andrew Miller. The hero of this book, Henry Freedman, was born in 1906 and raised in London’s East End. His parents had immigrated from Nadworna and Solotwina in Galicia. The author, Moscow correspondent of The Economist, is Henry’s grandson. He has written a loving story about Henry’s remarkable progression from East End “barrow boy” to the world of West End high society. Along the way, Miller paints wonderfully detailed pictures of the lives of Jewish immigrants living in the East End, often in squalor and abject poverty, and how so many fought their way into the larger British society.
Some will say, not without reason, that it is rather late, too late. The town has become a museum in which Judaism is exposed and sold to American and Israeli tourists and others who come from all over the world to find roots or weep over a vanished world. Others will say what has passed is dead and gone. The disaster took place sixty years ago. The time has come, with the disappearance of those who experienced it or some part of it, not to forget but to bring the weeping time to an end; the remembrance of what Jewish life was in Poland and in this town in particular can help prevent those times from coming back again. One can also, in the course of a day in Cracow, think this and cry out that.
Many researchers, particularly those working on very large families or single-surname projects, reach a point where a particular relationship can be deduced but cannot quite be proven. The naming patterns may be there and everything seems to fit into plausible times and places, but neither documentation nor oral testimony exists that might even remotely be considered proof. Do you record it as fact, without evidence? Or do you leave open a question when you actually “know” the answer? If you leave it open, you leave gaps and loose ends in your genealogy for no good reason. But if you bite the bullet and call it fact, you may never re-examine the decision in light of new source material. Your research heirs certainly won’t think to do so. How do you decide?
The Jewish Records Indexing- Poland (JRI-Poland) birth, marriage, and death indices found on the JewishGen Web site are invaluable resources for finding information with surname searches. This article provides a few tips for getting the most out of using these indices. These tips are based on my experience doing surname searches in the indices covering Kolomea Administrative District towns and villages for more than 50 requestors submitting hundreds of surnames.
The Brettschneiders are intertwined with Renee Stern Steinig’s and my Schächner and Steinig families. Renee and I set out to determine whether our three branches of Brettschneiders are related to each other and ended up researching all of the Brettschneiders from Eastern Galicia in the Austrian Empire near the borders with Bukovina and Russia. Most Jewish Brettschneiders in the United States emigrated from three towns and their surrounding villages. Several “cross links” exist between towns within family branches.
I was delighted to receive a third photograph of my great-grandmother Gittel from my father’s cousin. When I started genealogical research three years ago, I had not even known her name. Now I had immigration records, census records, birth records, death certificates, and other family information that had helped fill in some of the knowledge gaps about family members and key dates. I was able to determine that my great-grandparents had immigrated in the 1890’s from Korolowka, Galicia, now Oleyëvo-Korolëvka, Ukraine, the town where 38 Jews survived the Holocaust by hiding in caves for a remarkable 344 days. But this photo was a little different.
Postcards and contemporary newspapers have been significant among the manifold sources I have drawn on during my study of family history. In my first book I described how a postcard written in 1916 from the Eastern Front by Austrian army doctor Abraham Loew to his cousin Regina Griffel opened up a trail that led from Vienna via London to New York and Chicago, back to Strasbourg, and finally to Tarnobrzeg in Austrian Galicia. It was only in this roundabout way that I managed to locate the family of my maternal grandmother Chawa Wahl and, in due course, scores of cousins of the Griffel, Loew, Taube, Safier, and other related families (Edward Gelles, An Ancient Lineage: European Roots of a Jewish Family, Vallentine Mitchell: London, 2006).
This story was written in Hebrew by the surviving daughter of Bendet Akselrad of Korczyna and Krosno. The family was well established and had extensive roots and history in Korczyna and the vicinity. It contributed heavily to the Jewish community and provided leaders for the Jewish communities of Korczyna and Krosno for several generations until these communities and their Jewish residents were destroyed by the Germans during WWII.
How many times have I heard “There’s no information on my shtetl.” Perhaps there’s no information readily available on the Internet, and you’ve tried Google and JewishGen’s databases and sitewide searches, but alas…. Yet there is plenty of information about the vast majority of shtetls. The trick is to find people who do have the knowledge or documents about a particular place and get them to share it. Fifteen years ago I found nothing on the Internet about a “two horse” town named Zmigrod. Nobody had even heard of it and no data were available. So in my grandparents’ memory, I created a JewishGen ShtetLinks site.
The Kolbuszowa Region Research Group (KRRG) includes the following Administrative Districts (AD): Kolbuszowa, Lancut, Mielec, Nisko, Pilzno, Ropczyce, Rzeszów, Strzyzów, and Tarnobrzeg. The Suchostaw Region Research Group (SRRG) includes the following AD: Borszczow, Buczacz, Czortkow, Husiatyn, Skalat, Tarnopol, Trembowla, Zbaraz, and Zaleszczyki.
In 1978, the Skala Benevolent Society (SBS) published a yizkor book called Skala. The book was written by the shtetl’s former Jewish residents who either had survived the Holocaust or had been born in Skala and previously had emigrated. Its purpose was to honor Skala’s Jewish community, which had been annihilated by the Nazis and their allies. Most of the contributors to the original book were the survivors themselves, who felt a deep inner compulsion and moral obligation to those who perished, to tell the story of Jewish Skala and to share with their children and future generations their memories of suffering, struggle, and loss. The yizkor book was written primarily in Yiddish and Hebrew and was largely inaccessible to many modern Skala researchers, most of whose families came from this shtetl. Skala on the River Zbrucz, a translation of the entire yizkor book into English, has now been published by the Skala Research Group (whose members are investigating their roots in Skala) and the SBS.
Cadastral Maps and Landowner Records — Out of some 50 people the Coordinator did surname/given name searches for, eight KRG members/non-members requested full reports and made donations to the Gesher Galicia Cadastral Map Project in the name of Kolomea. Our account there now is about $800. Surname/Given Name Searches — Two new search requests have been completed since last report. The door is always open for new requests to conduct surname searches and report given names found.
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